Grief Kind podcast with Richard Arnold

For episode one of our second Grief Kind podcast series, Clover Stroud is joined by presenter and journalist Richard Arnold. Richard talks about his experience of grief and shares his advice for how to be #GriefKind with someone you care about to ensure they know they're not alone.

Richard looks directly at the camera with a half-smile, he's against a grey background.

For me, I loved it when people said my dad's name - it made it feel like he lived on with us.

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Richard says:

“Talking about grief and our experiences of bereavement is so important to help open up the conversation.  I am very fortunate to have incredible friends and family to support me through the laughs and the lows of grief after losing my dad.

“My main advice to people supporting someone through a bereavement is to just keep checking in.  It's an incredibly tough time and there will be times where people want to be alone, but offering to do something with them or sending them a text to say you're thinking of them really helps.”

You can read the full transcript further down this page.

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Grief Kind - supporting someone who is grieving

When it comes to something as tough as grief, it can be hard to know what to say or do that might help someone you love. Sue Ryder's Grief Kind campaign can help you support someone who is grieving.

Richard Arnold's full episode transcript


[00:00:15] Clover Stroud: Hello, and welcome to the second series of Grief Kind, a podcast by Sue Ryder, which helps you to support friends and loved ones going through one of the toughest times of their lives. I'm Clover Stroud. In each episode, I'll be talking to someone who, like me, has experienced grief firsthand, and who can talk about the support they received. Hopefully, each conversation will empower you to be grief kind, to avoid clamming up, and give your friends and family the love and support they need. 


[00:00:52] Clover: In this episode, I'm joined by TV presenter, Richard Arnold. Richard's dad Dave died in his sleep in 2016. It was very unexpected, leaving Richard and his mom in shock. In this interview, Richard says he had so much support from his partner and his friends. It helped him to support his mom through her grief. We hope you enjoy listening to our conversation. 


[00:01:29] Clover: Hello, Richard. Hi. Welcome to Grief Kind. It's a real privilege to be talking to you today. I want just to start with you telling me a little bit about your dad, Dave. What was he like? Tell me a little bit about him. 

[00:01:48] Richard Arnold: Dave was-- I used to always describe him, particularly in later life, as the old creaking gate, because he had such a twinkle in his eye, I thought he'd probably go on forever, bless him. He was a Cockney boy born within the region of Bow Bells, so Cockney born and bred, and his family were bombed out of Bow during the war. I think he always knew in his heart that I would end up moving back to London town, and I think he took great comfort in that, that I eventually came back to what obviously would be perceived as his roots. He was, as I said, a real twinkler. Had a wicked sense of humor, I think perhaps, maybe that's where I got it from. 

I think I probably learned a lot at his knee in that respect, and a real grafter. He was a helicopter engineer for Bristows. He started off by building hangers when he was in the RAF many, many moons ago. I suppose the phrase salt of the earth, which is much bandied around, would be the most apt moniker really. I loved him dearly. I absolutely loved him dearly. He was always texting me on his Nokia burner. We were always in radio contact a lot. We had a very, very close relationship, but myself being an only child. 

[00:03:01] Clover: Of course. You're an only child, so I'm sure that encouraged an extra level of closeness. It's lovely to hear about him. Now, you've been on our screens on Breakfast Time for 25 years, which is a quarter of a century, so congratulations on that. It's a huge achievement. What did Dave think about seeing his son on television every day? Did you talk to him about it? Did he tune in? Did he enjoy it? 

[00:03:25] Richard: He did watch it every day. I think mom in the very early years would stay out of the room, and then come in and say to dad, "Dave, what's he said now?" Because, obviously, live television, and my banter sometimes can be quite fruity, and irreverent. but always within the realms of decency and the law, I hasten to add that, Clover. He was less sweaty-palmed when it came to me broadcasting on the tele, incredibly supportive. I think over the years as well, it was a huge comfort for them, because, obviously, me being an only child, they still knew what I was wearing to school every day. 

At 10:00 to 8:00, my early slot, they would always tune in, and mom, she'd also know whether I'd had a night the night before, I think you know what I'm saying, because, moms always know these things, but at least they knew that I was alive, and well, and kicking, and, yes, they enjoyed it. They were incredibly supportive. 

[00:04:17] Clover: It sounds like a very, very close and loving relationship. That's beautiful to have had that relationship with your parents, but it must have made his death in 2016 especially difficult. Will you tell me a little bit about the details of how he died, and how you found out about it too? 

[00:04:41] Richard: Yes, of course. It was a huge shock, because as I say, he really was the creaking gate. There were no health issues that we were aware of at all. It was a Sunday night, he had a full roast with mom, thanked mom for dinner, and then went to bed, and sadly, didn't wake up on the Monday morning, which was incredibly shocking, as you can imagine, for my mom, teenage sweethearts, et cetera, and just shy of their 60th wedding anniversary. I at the time was on holiday with friends in Italy, and I'd just arrived, and we'd popped out on the Monday. I'd left my phone behind. 

We popped out on the Monday morning to do the shop for the week for the villa. I came back, and there were dozens of missed calls. There was one from a cousin who I hadn't seen for quite some time, and it just said, "Please call home." I called home, and she put mom on the phone, and then mom told me, and then I turned to my friend, Judy, Judy and Malak, dear friends of ours, and they were in their early 70s, and we go to Italy a lot with them. I just turned to Judy, and I said, "My dad's died." I remember it's odd, isn't it, the things you remember, the detail of it. She was cutting an iceberg lettuce, and she dropped the iceberg lettuce, and she went, "Oh, no, Rich." 

At that point, obviously, in shock, I spent a couple of minutes on the phone with mom, obviously. Then I went out into the garden, and as you can imagine, it's Tuscan, it was a beautiful sunny day, completely incongruous to the rush of emotions that I was feeling at the time. Speaking of that rush, I stepped out into the sunlight, and I felt the most extraordinary, overwhelming feeling of love. I felt like I was lifted off the ground by about a foot, and to this day, I'm sure it was dad putting his arms around me for the last time, and holding me tight, and putting me down. 

I remember speaking about that at the funeral, and several people came up to me afterwards and said, "Yes, I had a very similar feeling as well when I lost my mom," or, "When I lost my dad." That's the most overwhelming feeling when I recall that moment, which was obviously horrific, and many people listening will have been through it. Then after that, of course, everything came crashing down a bit. I drank about half a bottle of Campari. 

I had this extraordinary compulsion to just keep eating, and Judy was knocking up a Salad Niçoise every hour to feed me. I just had this, I don't know what it was. It was almost primal. I just had to eat, I had to eat, I had to eat. Then, a couple of days later, I came back to London to pick mom up. My dear friend Ollie picked me up at the airport with the cockapoo, which was a great comfort, and we drove to pick up mom. But, randomly, Clover, my dad would've loved this, being the twinkler that he was. I'd already booked a return flight back to London a couple of days after we arrived because I was going to walk the red carpet for the absolutely fabulous premiere, because I was one of the cameos in the film with Jennifer Saunders and Joanna Lumley. 

I know, again, it's totally out of joint with what was actually happening in real life if you like. Instead of walking the red carpet in Leicester Square, I was at fleet services with mom knocking back a drop of the hard stuff in the back of the car, Ollie driving, and me taking Clemmy for a comfort break. It was just the most surreal time, but the main thing for me, the main urgency, as you could imagine, because it was just me, mom and dad, Dot, Dave and Richard for my entire life, was to get back to mom, and I wanted to bring her up to London, and move her in with us for a bit. After the initial shock and tears, obviously, and talking to family and close friends, it was back to the smoke, and concentrating on the practicalities of it all. 

[00:08:16] Clover: It's interesting hearing you talk about that actually. The kind of physicality of grief, and how you remember the strange details about going out into the garden and that extraordinary feeling of love, the detail of the iceberg lettuce and so on. The kind, of you go into other kind of reality for a bit, don't you? This podcast, Grief Kind is about how we support one another, how we help one another during bereavement. I think being aware, if you are with somebody who has lost somebody very, very close to them, like their father, or partner, or whoever that might be, to be aware of the fact that they may be in a fairly strange state as well, the kind of weird physiological abnormality of it. 

I remember when my mom died, I felt as though I was walking on the moon, or I felt as though I was walking on a landscape that was completely unstable, and the floor was uneven, and the strangeness of that is something that I think we have to keep in mind when we're looking after each other, I suppose, in this state. 

[00:09:21] Richard: It's so true. It was like a-- Reverie doesn't seem like the right word, but you are right about that dream-like state where you do, and again, I use that phrase out of joint. You're slightly out of joint with the rest of the world. You can't quite believe that the rest of the world is carrying on. It's like when you're in a funeral car, and yet you are in this horrific holding pattern. It's an extraordinary time. I think you're absolutely right. That's a great analogy about the moon. I felt like I was in a dream-like state for much of the initial period after the call. 

[00:09:51] Clover: It's sort of like a vortex, isn't it? I think that we need to be especially tender with each other at that time as well. Also, sometimes your reactions can be-- I like your description of the fact that you just wanted to eat endless amounts of salad niçoise. 

[00:10:07] Richard: Yes, I know. It was weird, Clover. Honestly, it was the weirdest thing, because I wanted to eat-- I eat healthfully anyway. I'd like to think I drink responsibly, but at the time, there were quite a few refreshing beverages that were sunk, as you can imagine, just a drop of Dutch to get me through it. When I look back, I think was it something primal, like I'm trying to feed myself because I'm the last in line or something? 

[00:10:28] Clover: Live, yes. 

[00:10:28] Richard: Yes, I needed that nourishment. Which is why it was so great, because I'm surrounded by friends in London, my friends, family, if you like, that I've known for about 30 years, which was wonderful for them because-- Or, for me, I beg your pardon. Because, they're all spectacular cooks. Food just get to run. There's a reason that food was so welcomed because it nourished the soul. In every respect, it was a way that-- and I do it myself around people who are going through any kind of trauma. It's a way of showing your love and support. Frankly, it was much needed, and very well received. 

[00:11:07] Clover: No, I can imagine, and it's very nice that you had close friends with you. Can you tell me a little bit about the funeral? Because that is obviously another kind of strange and important part of grief as part of the ritual, the planning, the kind of sometimes, slightly, ridiculous things can happen at funerals as well, they don't always go in a completely straightforward way. Can you tell me a little bit about your father's funeral? 

[00:11:34] Richard: It's very difficult for me to talk about this without smiling out loud, which, again, might seem out of joint with the subject today, but it is real life. As you say, there are moments within the early stages of grief when you're dealing with those practicalities where things do go awry, or you see humor in them. Obviously, it's clearly a way that we all cope, and, humor, I use a great deal to cope actually. 

It's the first time I've had to organize a funeral, Clover. Again, very blessed to be late in life and having to deal with this, because dad was quite a ripe age in his almost mid-80s. I'm sat with mom, and we go to the town where I was brought up to organize the funeral. I go into the funeral parlor, which, of course, is next to the train station and the curry house. I go into the funeral parlor. Serious now, I'd made my peace with the fact that I didn't want to see dad, because I'd seen dad a couple of weeks before on Father's Day, and I just wanted to remember him like that, but obviously, for mom, it was very important to see dad. 

Anyway, we sit down, and I'm opposite this lovely woman, who is asking me all the questions about what we'd like from the funeral. I've never seen a woman so heavily made up, and heavily manicured in all my life. She was extraordinary, wonderful talons, completely polished, dare I say a blossoming windowbox, fabulously blonde platinum hair. Because I try and bring humor to all situations to cope. She sort of fixed me with her head at a jaunty angle. I have to hasten [unintelligible 00:13:04] incredibly professional and incredibly supportive. The head was that jaunty angle permanently. I thought I've got to break this woman. 

I've got to get her out of this. I said, we want yellow ties because dad loved the Jersey Boys or something. I wanted bright colors and stuff, yellow roses because I've always loved those. She said to me, "What would your dad's wish be for the funeral?" I said, "Well, to be quite honest, his dearest wish was to have it live-streamed like Celine Dion's husband's." [laughs] Were which point my mom slapped my arm away, "Richard, pack it in." I got a smile out of her, and that was great. The funeral itself was incredible. Because, I obviously got to say a few words on behalf of dad. 

It was absolutely packed with friends of mine who had made the trip down from London, friends of mine from Scotland, where I was brought up, as I say, from the age of about 12, and family, it goes without saying, and my dad who loved to paint, the whole of the local attended as well. It was a massive comfort for mom. I felt very blessed by that. Very blessed by that. 

[00:14:12] Clover: Yes, that gathering of people who have loved the person that you loved, and were closest to is incredibly important. It can't help make you reflect on the last couple of years actually, and what so many people have been through. In the immediate aftermath of the funeral, it sounds as though you were great support to your mom as well. Did you feel that you could fully grieve while supporting your mom, or did you grieve together, or did you put your own feelings aside? How did you manage that? Did it help or hinder your own grief? 

[00:14:47] Richard: It's an interesting question because, I'm looking back now some six years. I have seen fully, if you like, all the stages that are well-documented about grief. Now, with mom, of course, there was a lot of anger initially. My relationship, I suppose, with my mom changed at that point because, I stepped up to fill the gap that dad had obviously left behind. I don't want to say man about the house but you know what I mean? I sort of stepped up to effectively be, to all intents and purposes, her other half helping her through it. Our relationship dynamic changed. 

To answer your question about whether I had time to grieve alone, mom and I spent about three weeks living together. Clemmy, my cockapoo, never left her side, slept with her every night. Having mom at home and under one roof, it meant that we could go through it together. We would go on long walks, and we were blessed because the weather was glorious. We'd go for lunch every day. I was lucky to be able to take three weeks out to do that. That was a tremendous help for both of us. I had my other half, it was extraordinarily supportive as well, and as I mentioned, this lovely, strong, and robust friendship group. 

Because we have always lived our lives as pretty much an open book, and they've had their own experiences with elderly parents and grief, that was my main source of comfort. That helped me devote my energies to mom, because, I was thinking mom and dad, I've got this wonderful picture actually that I took of them holding hands going to into a hotel in Edinburgh that we go to a lot. The two of them in matching coats more or less, and holding hands, and walking into the lobby of this hotel. That's the couple that they were, proper porch rockers, if you like. That you couldn't imagine life without them being together, if you like, which seems like a romantic ideal. As I say, they were teenage sweethearts. It's like that coupling when the wind blows or whatever. I just have this Raymond Briggs-type view of the two of them. 

[00:16:53] Clover: Always together. 

[00:16:54] Richard: Yes, always together. Exactly. Thank you. 

[00:16:56] Clover: It's interesting, actually, to think about that, to think about your mom, I suppose, because, at that point, she had lost her lifetime's companion and love. How did she want to grieve? I can imagine that she wanted to talk about your dad a lot, and reminisce. What kind of support did she specifically need, and what she wanted to do, or to talk about, really, I suppose? 

[00:17:22] Richard: Well, for her, the state of shock obviously lasted much longer. But because we've always had a very close relationship as well, and because it had always been us three, as I said before, such a tight unit, we naturally turned to each other. It was actually quite easy for us to-- I don't want to say easy, but it was actually, because we had a great relationship, it was easy for us to talk about that, and what she was going through. Particularly with my dad, nothing was left unsaid. That made it a lot easier for both of us. Mom's arc was considerably longer than mine. I remember chatting to Debbie McGee about it. She lost Paul Daniels, and I said, "Well, do you think the grief goes away?" She was like, "I don't think the grief gets any smaller, but your world gets bigger." 

[00:18:09] Clover: Yes, that's such a good way of describing it. 

[00:18:11] Richard: That really struck a chord with me, because looking back on mom, and myself, and our relationship, and how it's changed through the various stages of grief, that we're also aware of painfully at times, I can see that's happened, mom's world got bigger, gradually over time. I moved her up to London, so I could see her every day. I'm fortunate to have a job or career where I do have free time to see her most days. I was aware that I could step up in that regard. She was initially resistant I think at that, as all moms do. "I don't want to be a burden bridge. I don't want to put it all on your shoulders." 

But I felt it was the right thing to do. To me it was a no-brainer, to mom she was more concerned about me taking on too much. "You're taking on too much," which I said, "You've got to let me do this, because, for me, this is the way that I am coping with this particular moment," that my own grief was to throw that throw myself at the practicalities of it. 

[00:19:10] Clover: It's interesting to think about the different ways that we grieve, and the different things that we need, I suppose. It sounds as though you supporting your mom was a way that you could show your love for her, obviously, and for your dad, and I guess for them as a couple too, it's a bit of like you as their son repaying some of the care, and love, and guidance that they'd given you in their life. 

[00:19:34] Richard: Also, Clover, we'd also talked about it. Actually, we talked about it two weeks before he passed away on Father's Day. As I say, he came up, and he insisted on paying for lunch. I said, "Dad, why are you paying for lunch? This is my treat." He said, "No, I've got this, son." I remember the last time I saw him, you know how we older guys get very big earlobes, there's an image for your, Clover, right? 


[00:19:57] Richard: Dad had the most extraordinary earlobe. My way of sort of showing affection, and we're a very tactile family anyway, lots of kisses and cuddles, there always have been. I would flick his ear lobes, his big granddaddy ear lobes. I remember kissing him on the earlobes just before he left that Father's Day. He walked down the steps outside the house, and he took a brush, and he swept the steps, and he turned to me, and he said, "That's it Rich, that's how you do it." 

When I look back, and he also, Clover, left his Father's Day card behind. When I look back, it almost seems prescient. I know sometimes we can perhaps read too much into these things, but it's also because we had a very frank conversation, to go back to your point, the two weeks before he died, about what it would look like when either of them went. I'd said, "Well, obviously, I'd want one of you to move up to London if you could, and we're able." 

I'm lucky because, again, physically and mentally robust in spirit and health. I said, "Yes." The funny thing was, I think we all knew that dad would, even though he was a Londoner, born and bred, wouldn't make that move, but mom would. 

[00:21:06] Clover: I think this conversation about grief is really important, but I think conversations about death in general, if we can be open to it, if we can have a cheerful chat, if that was possible over lunch, about how life might look when somebody dies. It makes the shock a little bit less intense, it makes the planning afterwards a tiny bit easier. I think it'd be really useful to talk a bit about things that people say to you, and things that we can do to help one another, and support each other in grief. My sister died in 2009, and I found some of the reactions, because in grief I felt, she was 46. She was very young, really. 

Sometimes I felt quite lonely in my grief, and quite pushed away from people as though people didn't want to almost-- It was slightly could be catching or something like that. I think when somebody dies when they're older, there is a more joyful ability to remember a long, and a happy life. What were the most helpful things that people said to you, the most comforting? Was it being able to just talk about him, and remember him in a very realistic way? Or did you want a lot of sympathy? What was helpful? 

[00:22:24] Richard: Well, what was very helpful was the fact that, because we were such a close unit, my friends knew my parents very, very well. They were very fond of Dave. It didn't feel like there were any minefields, really. As you say, and, obviously, I send my condolence to your good self, because your sister dying at that age is absolutely no age. You're right, because dad was elderly, it was clearly a shock because, as I say, there was no ill health. 

It felt like at least it was in the right order of things, if you like. Because my friends loved Dave, it was very easy to break bread, open up a screw top and chat genuine, and unfettered, if you like, about his death. They were very, very shocked, but rallied. I was very lucky to have that support, a closed set, if you like, of very close-knit friends who knew mom and dad as well. 

Mom and dad were very much part of our parties, and Sunday roasts, and whenever they came up to the smoke to London, we'd all meet them for a drink. It made that easier. I've got a lovely picture of me, mom, and my group of friends outside the restaurant where we actually took dad for Father's Day. This was about a week or so after he died. We all got together and raised a glass there. I know mom, mom drew an awful lot of comfort from that. 

I think it's because she's all perpetually been worried that as an only child, that I would never have enough friends. She's always delighted when my clan, if you like, gather. They were hugely supportive. We called it the one where, like in the Friends shows, they say the one when whatever. We called the episode of dad's funeral, the one where we took Dr. London. After the funeral, we got mom on a rattler, we took up a whole carriage, you can imagine the gin and tonics were flowing. We took mom up to London. That's where she spent a lot of time initially with my group of friends. I know she drew a lot of comfort from that. This was some six months before I actually moved her up permanently. 

[00:24:34] Clover: I think that what you are describing as well is that very human and very loving ability to reach out to each other, and to be together. I think that for anybody listening to this, supporting somebody in grief is like, don't be afraid to go and see them. Don't be afraid. I think often when you are bereaved, when you're grieving, you can feel alone. Actually, more often than not, I think you do want people around. 

You want to be able to remember the person, you want to maybe have a drink, or have a meal together and talk about that person. I love talking about my sister, even when I remember ways that she could be quite maddening. I love seeing her real old friends who knew her really, really well. You could remember the very human person that she was. Your descriptions of you and your friends with your mom, it's very heartwarming, actually, to think of that time to be together, and to remember your dad. 

[00:25:32] Richard: Oh, Clover, I don't know who I'd be without my friends and my other half to be quite honest. For me, they're the pension plan that keeps on giving. They really are. I drew down a lot of dividends, to continue the metaphor, during that time. As I say, they were more than happy to spend that time. I also think it's good to point out that I don't think you should be afraid when you're grieving, because it is such a personal thing. 

There were moments when I absolutely did want it to be just me and mom. There were moments when I didn't pick up the phone if someone called. I'd send a cheeky emoji, which is the good Lord's way of getting you out of dodge, isn't it? By firing off an emoji, so at least you've acknowledged the text, but you're not to invested. I was very aware of that, I needed that time for me and mom together, and to cut out a little bit of the noise, if you like, as well meaning as it was, but not for too long, because, these friends and family are my oxygen, and mom's the same. 

[00:26:33] Clover: I think what you're saying is important, because it is also physically, emotionally, mentally exhausting, especially the immediate aftermath, isn't it? 

[00:26:41] Richard: Oh, Clover. I was shattered. I don't think I've ever slept so well, which is the irony of that. All of us, particularly with everything that's going on in the world at the moment, you wake up in the tick tock at three o'clock, at 3:00 AM in the morning, especially, when like me, I have to get up at 4:00 AM anyway. That's when your mind starts churning, but I slept, and it was like, obviously, my body needed it. The physical nature of grief. That for me was probably the most overwhelming thing, I think, because I'm normally up and out an atom. But I needed just to sleep, alongside half a bottle of Campari and a nourishing niçoise salad. 


[00:27:21] Clover: For anybody listening to this, do you think there is any kind of one-size-fits-all? Or any right or wrong thing to say to somebody who, you've got a close friend who's lost a parent or a relative very close to them. How should we react? What can we do as the friendly bystanders, I suppose? 

[00:27:43] Richard: I think it's really important to keep radio contact up, even if it's just from a distance. We lost a dear family friend's son recently in a tragic accident about a year-and-a-half ago. He was just 21 years of age. I get goosebumps now thinking about it, because I kept saying his name every day after it happened, because the shock was just enormous. He was like a nephew to me. 

I remember as many people do when they're on the outside watching someone grieve, that you think, "Well, there are no words," but, actually, there are words, and don't be afraid to say them. Even if in the case of this particular chap, I couldn't make landfall with his mom. I tried initially, but then respected that some space was to be had, but I made landfall with her husband. I made sure that we were in the orbit of the family. 

I think, don't be afraid to maintain that presence, because, even if you don't get a response, I know from personal experience, I will have received the text, and I'll be incredibly grateful for it. I will get round to responding when I've got a bit more strength to deal with it. 

[00:28:58] Clover: I think what you've just said is so important, and also, even if the person that you're texting who is bereaved isn't even able to send an emoji, don't-- 

[00:29:08] Richard: They are listening though. 

[00:29:09] Clover: They are listening. Yes, they are. 

[00:29:10] Richard: Yes, totally, Clover. Yes, they are listening. 

[00:29:13] Clover: To keep up up that communication. Also, I suppose, long after the funeral as well, I was very aware after my sister Nell died, that it was months and months after she'd died. Still now, it's only just over two years, but I love talking to her friends about her. I suppose that's the kind of keep on reaching out is important as well. Isn't it? 

[00:29:36] Richard: Yes, without a doubt, without a doubt, because, again, we've all had experience of it, the contact falls off a cliff after the funeral and the wake. That wasn't the case with us, we were very fortunate. Again, geographically because my friend's family lives very close to myself in London, and mom, because she's so social. She used to work in a shop. She used to love all the chat over the counter, and she'd lived in Andover for most of her life. There was never any absence of communication from her friends, which was hugely important for her. Trying to get in touch with her, Clover, now is a nightmare. I have to pop around because she's always on the blower, my love. 


[00:30:18] Clover: She sounds absolutely great. 

[00:30:20] Richard: Do you know what I am? I'm so proud of her, because, obviously, this happened when she was 79, and to move up to London at 79. If we were going to enter the third and final chapter together, I really wanted her to enjoy it, and also, for me to be present through light and shade because, obviously, yes, there were moments, "Have I made the right decision? I never should have come up here," but now she's just delighted that she has, because she's, again, made her own friends up here as well. The little Friday club with the old people, she calls them, and the neighbors that she's met in the block where she lives. 

I'm really proud of her, and whenever she has a moment-- As I said, I'm very lucky, because I can see her most days of the week. I say, "You've got to look down the ladder mom, and see how far you've come." I think that's really important that we all do that as individuals. Give yourself some credit for how far you've come, because that is a huge source of strength as well. 

[00:31:15] Clover: What about, are there important moments throughout the year, whether it's your dad's birthday or Father's Day? Are there other rituals where you remember him, or do you find those days more painful? How do you get through them? 

[00:31:31] Richard: Recalling the first birthday after he passed away, mom and I went out for lunch and that was a difficult lunch. That was a difficult lunch. We were a bit flinty with each other. There's no trying to dress it up, but afterwards, it was all fine. I think we were both acutely feeling it that day, but we haven't really marked the occasion since, if you like, or Father's Days. Funny, you should say that, you mentioned Father's Day, that's the day I do feel it. The first couple of years after he passed away, I would take myself off on Father's Day. 

If I'm really honest, that used to be very painful actually, initially, for the first couple of years. I've reconciled myself with it now because, he used to always call me Scooby, after Scooby Doo. I can hear him now in my head going, "Oh, Scoob. Don't worry about it," you know? 

[00:32:32] Clover: Yes. 

[00:32:32] Richard: I can still hear his voice. 

[00:32:34] Clover: Do you chat to your dad? 

[00:32:35] Richard: Yes. Also, Clover, no one looks at me like I'm being a bit weird if I'm talking out loud to my father, because, in the nature of my job in broadcasting, is I wear any ear piece all the time, and I've always got voices in my head, and I'm always talking to them. Actually, I get away with it, Clover. I feel like I've got some diplomatic immunity when it comes to talking out loud, apparently, to myself. Yes, I do. I do talk to him. I really do. In fact, people listening to this won't be able to see us now, but I'm smiling out loud just thinking about him, and the conversations I have with him. 

Sometimes if I find myself even a bit worked up about something, as we all do, because I think we're all, oddly enough, much better at dealing with the bigger dramas than we are the pettier ones, if you like. When something happens, that hiccup in the road and you get yourself all worked up, I can hear his voice just, "Scoob. Don't worry about it, son." 

[00:33:23] Clover: What about your mom, if she's having a bit of a moment, if she's having a bit of a bad day, how do you support her? 

[00:33:29] Richard: Again, I'm lucky because I can go over. I can be there. Whether it's just for a cup of tea, whether it's taking her out to the cinema, going out for a walk, and I tell you what works every time, when I take her granddaughter over: the aforementioned, Clemmy the cockapoo. Clemmy has been an absolute delight. I cannot impress upon you enough the sheer joy, because I never had a pet growing up, having Clemmy around, oh, she's seven this year. At the times I say, as I mentioned, she slept with mom the entire time, which was very unusual, because she'd normally sleep with us. 

It was clearly like she knew. Mom had a moment shortly after dad died and cried. I was on a shoot, and Clemy was staying with mom at the flat. Clemy just put her arms around her, and started licking her face. I guarantee you, if I take Clemmy over [laughs] all the ills of the world, fall away, incredibly nurturing influences. When it came to coping with grief, it was almost like Clemy was a one-size-fits-all, because she was a huge comfort to all of us. Isn't that funny? 

[00:34:37] Clover: It's lovely to think of the way that animals. People often say it about young children as well, because they can be slightly oblivious sometimes to the bigger worries of the world, and having them around. Animals are the same as well. That comforting affectionate presence is lovely. 

[00:34:56] Richard: A constant presence as well. Their world hasn't changed at all. 

[00:35:01] Clover: Absolutely. 

[00:35:01] Richard: You can draw a lot from that. 

[00:35:03] Clover: Last thing. If somebody's listening to this podcast because they want to specifically help someone who is grieving, what words of advice would you give them? 

[00:35:14] Richard: I would say, just keep in touch. Keep in radio contact with whoever's grieving. Keep that presence up, and that presence can manifest itself physically, or just a little note. You don't want to wear them down like a war of attrition, and bombard them with messages, but I think it's really key to maintain a presence. 99% of it is maintaining a presence in their lives as close as you can, obviously. 1% is when they come up for air, just being with them, I think. Just, keep reaching out. I think it's hugely important. 

I would make a point with regard to the tragedy I spoke to you about just a few moments ago. I made a point of every Sunday ringing the family. Over time, the conversations were longer and longer, but I made a point of doing that every week. I think that was really, really important. I'm not a blood relation to them, but families take on all shapes and sizes, as I've demonstrated with my close friendship group here in London. I think it's just very important to keep that conversation up. As I've said before, as part of Sue Ryder campaigns, don't be afraid to speak their name. Say their name. 

[00:36:32] Clover: Absolutely. I think that's so important, to talk about the person who's been lost, to remember what they were like, and to say their name, I think is such a good piece of advice, and keep up that contact, that sense of love, I suppose, really, isn't it? It's just manifesting and communicating love in some way. 

[00:36:51] Richard: Absolutely. I'm worried that I've mentioned Dave so much on this podcast, Clover, that I might manifest him now behind me in my dressing room. 


[00:36:59] Richard: That would be just the goolish trick that he would love. A little surprise for Scooby. 


[00:37:06] Richard: This is why I've enjoyed this chat, if I'm honest, because, speaking to our colleagues at Sue Ryder, when I first got involved in this campaign, was a huge comfort as well, because it's been a while since I've actually indulged myself, if I can say that, by talking about Dave or my dad, for as long. Speaking about how far we've come, I've realized how far I have come, and particularly my mom has come over the last few years just by having this conversation with you today, so it's been a real privilege, Clover. Thank you very much. 

[00:37:42] Clover: It's been lovely hearing about Dave, and your mom, who really sounds like a tremendous woman, but it's been really great talking to you, Richard. Thank you very, very much, indeed. 

[00:37:52] Richard: Thank you, Clover. 


[00:37:56] Clover: Grief is different for everybody. There's no one-size-fits-all approach, but you don't need a degree in counseling to help a loved one who's grieving. It is about the personal support you can offer, which should always be led by what feels right for the grieving person. The most important thing is to ensure that no one has to go through it alone. To get more information on how to help grieving friends and relatives, go to Don't forget to follow us on your favorite podcast app to get the next episode as soon as it's ready. I'm Clover Stroud. Grief Kind is a Bengo Media Production for Sue Ryder. 


A woman stands behind a punchbag in the gym, smiling at her friend
Grief Kind
With the right help, we can learn to live with grief. Find out how Sue Ryder can help you to become Grief Kind and support people you care about who are coping with grief.
View over the shoulder of a man watching one of Sue Ryder's Grief Kind classes on a laptop
Grief Kind classes
A series of five short video tutorials giving advice on what grief is like and how you can support others who are grieving, as part of our Grief Kind campaign.
The support bereaved people say is most helpful
There are lots of ways you can support a bereaved person. These are things people have told us they found most helpful after their loved one died.